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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

The Problim Children: 03/10/18

The Problim Children

The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd is the start of a new middle grade series about seven children, each named for and born on a different day of the week. As their parents are super special archeologists, they spend a lot of time at home alone.

The children live in a house behind a bunch of magical fog, away from society where they are their own mini community. That is until the end of chapter one when one of them accidentally blows up the house. In the rubble they find the deed to their grandfather's mansion in the next town over. With no parents to help with the current situation they decide to move.

Lloyd relies heavily on rhythmic onomatopoeia for her descriptive language. When a simple word will do, a two or three word sound description is used instead. I think these sounds would lend themselves to being read aloud — by a parent to a child, a teacher to a classroom, or as an audiobook. In print, though, they can get tiresome.

The youngest Problem isn't much of a speaker. Instead he prognosticates through flatulence. The text provides a number as to which kind of fart it was. Sometimes the other Problims translate and sometimes it's left to a footnote. These footnotes remind me of the early days of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. The odiferous language and translation is a cute idea but it sometimes get the way.

The sibling's new town is under the watch of a nasty piece of work with the last name O'Pinion. She is literally in the last minutes of buying the Problim house when the siblings show up. She is there like many adults in the Pippi Longstocking books who pretend to act on her behalf only because they want her pirate treasure. I know if I were younger, I would find her diabolical. Again — a good narrator will bring her to life in ways that my inner voice failed to do.

The Problim house also has something special to it. What exactly it is, isn't revealed here. This volume is just about setting up the world, introducing the characters, and seeing the initial dynamics play out.

The second book, The Formidable Foe comes out February 19, 2019.

Three stars

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Monday, March 12, 2018 at 15:14:57

herding cats

Ah, yes. I could see that being tiresome to read in print vs having someone read it aloud. Still a cute set up overall.

Comment #2: Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 22:05:00


I think the book will do better with upper elementary grade readers than with me. The family is certainly memorable and I am curious to see what happens next now that everyone has been introduced.